University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: economics
Study type: semester abroad
My time at UCSB has been an enrichment in my life, both academically and personally. But before I go into more detail about the advantages and experiences of and from Santa Barbara, I would like to describe the application phase in more detail. See mcat-test-centers for University of California Davis.
The first step was to contact MicroEdu.com. Right from the start I was treated exceptionally helpfully. The person in charge, Aline Meyer, answered all my questions clearly and quickly and was always able to give me information. Based on your recommendations, the first thing I did was a TOEFL test, which shouldn’t cause any problems if you have a reasonable knowledge of English and a preparation time of 2-4 weeks. I then put together all the necessary application documents that Aline said I needed. This included, among other things, certified transcripts and syllabuses of my grades translated into English and courses taken at the home university in Basel. This was a rather annoying affair since UCSB kept asking for different documents and my home university was also a bit slow in processing the documents. To be on the safe side, everyone should have several certified transcripts and English syllabi ready before applying to UCSB. Everything else, including a CV, passport photos and other necessary documents, were obtained very quickly or already available. With regard to the required documents, I could completely rely on the information from MicroEdu.com. The only other annoying task regarding the organization in Germany is the visit to the embassy, which is mandatory for obtaining the visa. Annoying because you have to show that you intend to return to your home country after your visa has expired. It is best to take a valid contract with an employer, club, gym or similar with you. In addition, you should of course have enough patience and all the documents that you also need for the UCSB. Furthermore, an online test must be completed in advance and of course the visa also costs extra money.
But the rest was well organized. After I had put all the documents together, I simply sent them to MicroEdu.com in Münster and Aline took care of everything else. After a few weeks I got the acceptance from UCSB.
After all the formalities had been completed, things really got going in September. As an international student at UCSB, you cannot get a place in the dormitories, so you have to find an apartment first. However, this was not a problem for any of the students I spoke to. Many families there offer rooms in their houses, and whole houses are also rented to students. However, sharing apartments or even rooms is unavoidable if you don’t want to pay too much. If you want to live alone, you can’t rent less than $1,300 a month.
I was there two weeks before the semester started, which ensured a relaxed apartment search. However, it usually does not take that long, the apartment was found after 4 days. From home I booked a car for 2 weeks and a room in the Motel 6 in Goleta with my fellow student, with whom I went to UCSB. Apart from the hostel in Santa Barbara, the Motel 6 is the cheapest place to stay. Nevertheless, it has an excellent price-performance ratio. Goleta is a Santa Barbara neighborhood that includes the airport and is directly above Isla Vista. Isla Vista is another suburb of Santa Barbara that is home to the UCSB campus. Isla Vista itself has been a big part of the charm and fun of UCSB for me. It’s actually more of a suburb north of Santa Barbara, about 15-20 minutes away by bus. The campus is right on the outskirts of town and that’s why pretty much most of the students who attend the university live there. To really experience student life at UCSB, I would recommend everyone to look for an apartment in Isla Vista. From the Motel 6 we then looked for an apartment via the website www.craigslist.org, where you can find everything that is offered in the area, from apartments to furniture to books.
The apartment was not really furnished, so we had to buy additional furniture and a refrigerator. However, these home utensils are relatively cheap in the USA. At the Camino Real Marketplace, which can be reached in 5 minutes by bus from Isla Vista, there are shops comparable to Hornbach, Kaufland or Aldi. There you can buy everything you need.
The last organizational hurdle to be overcome came at the beginning of the semester. The courses you want to take at the university are usually already full. The enrolled students who graduate from UCSB have priority and often enroll in more courses than they ultimately choose. However, I can only speak here of the Faculty of Economics, where places seem to always be the tightest. In order to get a place, you have to go to every course you want to attend and get the professor’s signature there, who then confirms that there are still places available in the course. Some professors do not accept external students at all. Once you have obtained the signature, you must bring it, including an application form, to the dean’s office of the relevant faculty and hand it in. In the course of the next week you will then be informed whether you get a free place or not. Therefore, the first two weeks are quite tiring as you have to attend several lectures if you don’t want to miss anything, although it’s quite possible not to finish these courses. In contrast to my home university, attendance is compulsory in most courses.
I took the courses “Corporate Finance”, “Public Finance” and “Communication for International Students”. The first two are University Immersion Program courses. This program enables external students to take part in courses that are also attended by permanently enrolled students. Communication for International Students was a course run by the UCSB Extension Faculty, which handles the affairs of international students and was also the point of contact for us. This faculty offers its own courses, which are only attended by extension students and usually not by Americans. These courses have the advantage of being about half the price (most between $460-520) of the University Immersion Program courses.
All courses were an enrichment both in terms of content and the way in which the professors taught. Public Finance consisted of a mix of fundamentals of economics, history of American finance and finally the combination of both. It was more of a lecture with lots of notes, the book that went with it didn’t necessarily have to be read. If, as in my case, you have already attended some economics lectures, the requirements of the course did not pose any major problems, also because the professor had a very clear pronunciation and presented the material in a very understandable way and using comprehensible examples.
Corporate Finance was a very specific course. The senior lecturer is a former CEO of Burger King and has an otherwise impressive business background. However, he does not hide this from the students. However, the course was one of the best I have ever attended. It wasn’t easy to get in as the professor has high demands on his students and doesn’t want more than 20-25 students in his class. In addition, I have never had to learn so much for an intermediate examination, course presentation, teamwork on a case study from his professional life and the final examination for any subject. But it was an incredibly practical course: the three books we had to read weren’t academic textbooks; they were books about the financial markets and how they work, a book on teamwork and a book with tips for managers to prepare them for certain professional situations. The way the lecturer related anecdotes from his business life to the subject matter was also very entertaining and interesting. In addition, the teamwork, which lasted over four weeks, not only gave me the opportunity to make new friends with Californians with whom I still keep in regular contact, but also to give a long presentation in English.
Communication for International Students was a course that involved a lot of speaking. The lecturer was a very friendly man who rather moderated the lessons and let the students actively design them. This often involved grammatical exercises, discussion rounds and two presentations that the students held among themselves. In addition, every week we had to write down vocabulary that we didn’t know yet, give it to him on a list and then write a test about it. The atmosphere was extremely friendly and the content of the course was instructive. The only negative thing to note here is that the difference in language level was sometimes serious and the course can therefore be a little tiring for students who can already speak English quite well.
The university campus is outstanding. It is right on the beach, separated only by its own lagoon and the dunes. There are fast food restaurants, including Subway and Panda Express, in the central building, and the library has an “Ocean View Room” where you can study while enjoying the beautiful view. In addition, the Recreation Center is a fitness facility that, in addition to two very large weight rooms, also has two swimming pools, several basketball courts and a huge artificial turf field.
Santa Barbara Downtown can be reached in about 20 minutes by bus. State Street is the core where shopping, restaurants, bars for late night partying, and a relaxed atmosphere abound. Everything is kept in a beautiful Spanish style. Attractions here include the harbour, the Old Mission Chapel, the nearby mountains and also City College. Recommended bars and restaurants include Yogurtland, Habit Burger, Chinos, Sandbar, Sharkees and Tonic.
If you are planning a longer trip or have time for it, you should definitely visit Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, the national parks in Utah, Los Angeles and of course Las Vegas.